Shani on the mountain
by Shân Gwenfron Jones
“By mastering the substance of a mountain, one could penetrate to the deepest of his spirit.”
Well, we’re over five weeks into the lockdown and I’m starting to feel a longing for the mountains. Especially one special mountain, Moel Eilio. My favourite mountain. It has a beautiful summit looking down at Waunfawr. It’s not one of the giants in terms of height compared to some of the other Snowdonia summits, but it’s a highly regarded summit all the same. The view from the summit is spectacular and ranks as one of the best (in my opinion – everyone has their own personal favourite of course).
On my last trip to the mountain, I had the pleasure of seeing one of Snowdonia’s most experienced mountain runners, Dafydd Whiteside Thomas. Mr Thomas or ‘Thomas Geog’ was my former Geography teacher. I have nothing but respect for this man. He’s been running mountains for years in his well-earned Eryri Harriers vest. He’s a special breed who keeps going (dal ati) and deserves the upmost respect. He treads the Moel Eilio paths weekly, completing runs each year, regardless of his age. He’s an amazing man. As we got talking, Dafydd mentioned that he remembers running the Nant Gwrtheyrn race in the 70’s. Many similar races were held all over Wales to raise money of the appeal to purchase the village. According to Dafydd, it was a challenging race but one with spectacular views all the way! The views remain. And recently the Rhys & Meinir race has been re-introduced, giving local runners an opportunity to enjoy the challenging terrain.
I come across many familiar faces on the Moel Eilio path, and on that day, I saw one of my former students, Eve, who was power walking with her dog, Fig, who was smiling from ear to ear. Moel Eilio is also Eve’s favourite mountain. She attended an Entry 1 course last year and continues to speak Welsh daily. We had a lovely conversation in Welsh and we both admired and were awe-struck at the beauty of the view in front of us. We didn’t need words to stand there, admiring the phenomenon that is Snowdonia right in front of us.
Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), king of the giants, directly in front of us staring back in silence and Crib Nantlle to the right like a long snake stretching towards Carnedd Goch and Craig Goch, inviting us to Dyffryn Nantlle. And on the horizon, the Eifl’s three peaks waving at us both as we shared our stories of the magical little village in their shadow. Eve is continuing (dal ati) with her Welsh and hopes to return to Nant Gwrtheyrn soon. She has fallen in love with the Welsh mountains and this has spurred her interest in the language. The love and respect she has for our mountains and language go hand in hand.
Every trip to Moel Eilio is different and I always get a chance to talk to someone or another. But one thing is for sure, I have to keep at it (dal ati) as I struggle my way to the summit before getting to enjoy the trip on the way down. You have to keep at it with everything in life. I’m looking forward to my next trip up the mountain once this nightmare is over.
Here is quote from a brilliant book “Galwad y Mynydd” by Ioan Bowen Rees. It tells the tale of an individual conquering some of the world’s largest summits and how he keeps going, no matter what.
“There is no comradeship like that of two friends mountaineering together. They can achieve a sympathy of movement greater than that of any machine” – #togetherstronger
Dal ati (keep going), stay safe and stay happy. The sun will be above Moel Eilio again.